As eye-opening as it was, and as much as I agreed with its message, I did not think Blackfish was that great of a documentary.
It focuses on the inhumane practices of SeaWorld and the inhumane ways they acquire and keep whales. Which was interesting, because even though I’ve never had any interest in SeaWorld, I just sort of assumed it wasn’t that great. I had no idea it was actually that bad and could be that cruel. But despite the documentary mostly being about SeaWorld, it really doesn’t give us much information on them. Who owns it? How did it start? Why can they keep up these practices? At the end, there’s a statement saying that SeaWorld wouldn’t provide information for the documentary, but still. I sort of feel like they filmed all this footage, and then found out SeaWorld wouldn’t cooperate, so they just had to go with what they had. They pretty much only talk to former SeaWorld employees, all of whom, except maybe one, seem to now be totally against SeaWorld. I feel like if you want your documentary to sound like a documentary and not a PSA, you need to show both sides, and within those sides, show varying opinions. They talked to a few experts here and there, but mostly hearing from former employees got sort of boring. We get it, SeaWorld does terrible things. But why were these people involved for so long? What was the turning point for them? I think the focus of Blackfish was so narrow that it made it less interesting.
I also kept thinking that the whales came off as bad guys here. The stance of the documentary seemed to switch between whales being bad and humans being bad. Obviously, it’s sad that whales have killed people and I wish it wouldn’t happen. Buuuuut they are wild animals. CALLED KILLER WHALES! Sure, it’s sad, but I don’t really see where whales are really to blame for killing anyone. The trainers would talk about how they have such good relationships with the whales, that they’ve raised them, etc etc, seeming to forget that they pretty much straight up kidnapped these baby whales from their mothers. The documentary makes a point to show how emotionally advanced the whales are, which leads me to believe that these humans can think all they want that their relationships with the whales are good, but as far as the whales are concerned, humans are their captors, not friends.
Blackfish is certainly enlightening in a lot of ways, and I’m glad that it’s making people more aware of what’s up with SeaWorld. But as a documentary, I was just sort of disappointed with it.
This appears to be bringing a much needed awareness about the terrible things that go on at SeaWorld. It’s very scary and shows that they have been doing something terrible from the beginning.
That being said, this is a terrible movie. The message is very important, and this movie gets that across but the whole movie is all from people who used to work at SeaWorld. We never at any point talk to the people who own SeaWorld. The documentary, at the end, mentions that SeaWorld never agreed to be interviewed, but could they really not do any kind of research of their own? This movie was made completely off ex SeaWorld Employees and Youtube videos.
I think the best way to express how I feel about this movie, is think of watching The Thin Blue Line and then Blackfish. It would be like watching Citizen Kane and then watching Snow Buddies (the 2008 Air Bud puppies movie.) This movie is just really poorly laid out. Just because you have a great topic to make a documentary about doesn’t really mean you should be the one to make it.
This movie is not good and should have just been a 21 minute special. I also have a big problem that their big moments of the film are watching people get attached by the KILLER whales. I cleaned my kitchen through most of the last 30 minutes.
I also saw, on my own (both on Netflix):
Snow Buddies – Awful but still more enjoyable than Blackfish.
Paper Soldiers – Very racist but does have Jay-Z in it for 2 seconds. And still more enjoyable than Blackfish.